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NewComm class engages with community

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NewComm class engages with community

Katya Arutyunyan

Katya Arutyunyan

Katya Arutyunyan

Isabella Zhang, Staff Writer

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English teacher Chidi Asoluka’s New Community (NewComm) class will travel to Kingsbridge Heights Community Center this morning to explore the origins of the non-profit organization and find links between the real world and novels read in class.

During the visit, the class will tour the Kingsbridge Heights organization, speak to team members, garden, work with students, and assist the organization’s technology department, Tyler Jonas (12) said.

After the trip, students will write and think about connecting themes between people at Kingsbridge Heights, the student’s personal experience, and the novels read in class, Bell Hooks’ All About Love  and James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, and after winter break the class will brainstorm a project to help give back to the community, Asoluka said.

“This visit will further our class’s literary discussions, because we will now be able to include our experience at Kingsbridge in conversations about the help we can provide and the novels,” Jonas said.

Through NewComm, Asoluka wants to helps students understand the community and expand their horizons outside of the walls of the classroom, he said.

As the class discusses love, relationship, system, proximity, class, and race through the perspective of the novels, trips to non-profit organizations will creates “human stories”. Through these stories, students can better understand how the non-profit organizations came to be, why it exists, and what people they are helping, Asoluka said.

“It allows us to ask better questions and think more strategically about how we can be of use,” Asoluka said.

“The class allows you to evaluate your own identity, connect literature and social justice with the world through your own eyes,” said Jamie Berg (12).

“This trip in particular serves as a foundation for students to build a relationship with the people at the center,” Dakota Stennett-Neris (12) said. “I don’t want to seem like we are privileged HM students just giving and giving. Instead I want to hear what they need and what we can do to best help them.”

Later in the year, the NewComm class will take two more trips to Kingsbridge Heights, Asoluka said. The students will visit for a second time to shadow staff members and grasp an understanding of the site’s daily routine and problems like where its funding comes from and how it obtains volunteers.

“After understanding all the themes that contribute to creating and maintaining the non-profit organization as well as the social and political impact at the community, the class will come up with a project to help the Kingsbridge Community and put what they have learned to use,” he said.

During the class’ last visit, the students will propose one project and receive feedback from the  staffs at the center, Asoluka said

“Our school does a good job discussing things that are going on, but we don’t do much after that. I really like this class because I get to take what I’ve learned and apply it into the real world.” Berg said.

Asoluka hopes the class can create real impact. “I believe in the power of education, and I believe it is a liberating force. It has the ability to allow you to relinquish your masks and become more of your authentic and best self,” he said.

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NewComm class engages with community